WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Will Not Be Extradited To US, British Judge Rules

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Phillip Nieto Contributor
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A British judge rejected the United States’ request Monday morning to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face charges of conspiring to hack government computers and violating the Espionage Act.

The judge, Vanessa Baraitser, ruled against the U.S. extradition request, citing Assange’s fragile mental health, according to the Associated Press. If convicted on all charges, Assange would have faced a maximum of 175 years in prison, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. government plans to appeal the decision within the next two weeks.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 11: Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on April 11, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

“Holy shit,” said NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, reacting to the decision. “Thank you to everyone who campaigned against one of the most dangerous threats to press freedom in decades.”

Assange’s lawyer argued that the Australian citizen acted as a journalist when he published classified documents exposing the U.S. military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and thus was protected under the First Amendment.

Baraitser rejected the defense’s argument, claiming his “conduct, if proved, would therefore amount to offenses in this jurisdiction that would not be protected by his right to freedom of speech,” the AP reported.

The judge also cited Assange’s clinical depression, adding he would likely attempt suicide if extradited. Baraitser noted the isolation he would face in a U.S. maximum-security prison would be “oppressive” due to his current mental state. (RELATED: Doctors Claim Julian Assange ‘Could Die In Prison’ Without Urgent Medical Care)

The judge also said that any measures to prevent Assange from committing suicide would be circumvented due to the 49-year-old’s “intellect and determination,” according to Fox News.

In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has received growing calls to pardon Assange after pardoning several political allies, including Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.